I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (31 May 2014)

Top picks

Take a few minutes to listen to Jon Mooallem’s talk on the origin of teddy bears, and the stories we tell about wild animals

Why it’s so hard for men to see misogyny: Amanda Hess on the eye-opening #YesAllWomen hashtag

This sea creature lives life nearly invisible–until you touch it.

Marmoset triplets provide clues about stillbirth, by Carl Zimmer. “Something must be happening in the marmoset womb that is leaving an invisible mark on triplet females for their entire life.”

Can farmed fish feed the world without breaking the oceans (and can we feed farmed fish)? Great Nat Geo feature.

Erin Biba is absolutely right about the need to value good writing over clicks. She’s also as good as she says.

Look beyond honeybees; wild bees and butterflies are in trouble too, and they’re just as important. By Brandon Keim.

Great interview/profile of Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, who identified HIV as the cause of AIDS.

Bruce Lee’s one-inch punch: a beautiful fusion of neuroscience and biomechanics. And punching. By William Herkewitz

Proof: The Science of Booze is a new book on alcohol by Adam Rogers, one of the best science writers around. Check it out. And here’s an interview with the man himself.

Wow! DNA shows that tiny fish with bizarre ornaments are the larvae of adults that look completely different. By Jennifer Frazer.

A lot of effort is spent trying to find ways of slowing ageing. Maybe we should try to find the things that speed it up. By me.

This video of all the components of a synapse, in atomic detail, is the most incredible thing I’ve seen all month. By Virginia Hughes.



Those surveys about views on evolution are a terrible guide to “science literacy” (which is itself a silly term). By Dan Kahan.

“In 1802, Aldini zapped the brain of a decapitated criminal

A recent special issue of replications in psychology provoked an interesting debate, after Simone Schnall, whose work was unsuccessfully replicated lambasted a culture of “replication bullying”. Nicole Janz offers a good overview; Etienne LeBel argued that unsuccessful replications are beginnings not ends; Sanjay Srivastava singled out the lack of diversity in the debate; Carol Tweten offered a graduate student’s perspective; Andrew Wilson and Sabrina Golonka wrote that poor Methods sections are the real problem; Pete Etchells looks on the positive side; Uta and Chris Frith suggest ways of improving trust; and at least one person was very silly indeed. I’m probably missing lots: there were more than 30 posts at last count.

A cheap cholera vaccine can stop an epidemic

“As we say in science, England couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo.” – Stephen Hawking.  Ian Sample covers a thoroughly ridiculous story about scientists making up silly formulas.

What is wrong with Infant Looking Research? A fantastic old post about why a lot of infant cognition studies may be flawed.

“Mr Brierley said he believed it was the world’s first “elfie” — or elephant selfie.”

How a neurologist’s photos of mental patients influenced Darwin’s thinking

Time to treat crime forensics like real science—Virginia Hughes on forensic screw-ups and why they happen.

Emily Willingham versus PETA—the Pissants for the Egregious Tarnishing of Autism—over their outrageous new ad.

“The bad news is that Earth will have been boiled and sterilized eons earlier as the sun swells and dies.”

Lead author agrees to retract one of two controversial stem cell papers

A little bird either learns its name or dies.


Human brains and muscles are both metabolically weird, and might hint at a trade-off that made us human.

WHO delays decision about destroying smallpox stores again. (Shaft. You’re damn right.)

This bird lived 47 million years ago & was the size of your hand. And we can see fossilised pollen grains in its gut.

Fruit-boring wasp has zinc-tipped drill

When ant queen dies,Game of Thrones ensues

Toxic toads troubling the native fauna of Madagascar. Could be an ecological disaster

A crowd-funded project wants to create the world’s first virtual lifeform from scratch

“Looking up from underneath a wave is like looking through a moving painting.” Paul Nicklen on underwater photography

We need an intergovernmental panel on antibiotic resistance, just like we have for climate change, says Jeremy Farrar

Is DNA multilingual?

What we do with the scimitar-horned oryx could define conservation in the 21st century.

Firefighters fight fire, save baby cows, get gut rot.

“In a decade, every piece of apparel you buy will have some sort of biofeedback sensors built in it.”

Urban geographer’s brush with the law risks sending chill through social

Twitter to Release All Tweets to Six Research Groups: A Trove of Billions of Tweets Will Be a Research Boon & Ethical Dilemma

The best way to win an argument

Thinning Arctic ice creates new challenges and opportunities for microbes



Onion: New STEM Education Initiative Inspires Girls To Earn Less Than Men In Scientific Career

A science paper on Panini sticker rarity and cost-effective strategy

Here is a chart comparing apples to oranges 

Freelancer appraisals: “Our manager of operations (me) is not doing a great job motivating her direct reports

Animal, vegetable or mineral: a very cool microscopy quiz.

Yes, species go extinct all the time. They just do it 1000 times faster when we’re around

The loneliest plant in the world resides at this South African botanic garden… mostly

Population geneticist Jeremy Yoder reviews and eviscerates of Nicholas Wade’s poor understanding of genetics

CNN’s credibility destroyed in collision with giant asteroid

Amazon has a rather lax attitude to selling muscle relaxants, steroids, prescription drugs

“Misrepresentation,” “reckless disregard”: Carolyn Johnson has the full Marc Hauser report with details of misconduct 

Doctors diagnose inherited blindness in Peruvian villagers… who are immediately stigmatised by their peers.

100-Year-Old Negatives Discovered in Block of Ice in Antarctica

Big Ag has left us with a paltry poultry gene pool. This guy wants to save forgotten breeds.

“Those who are engaged in mental pursuits should avoid a chess-board as they would an adder’s nest” – SciAm, 1859

Onion: “Christ, Article a Video



Two camps urge us to “be ourselves” online, and arrive at opposite conclusions. Scott Rosenberg on identity & tech

“‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens”

“So, a question, to my fellow male nerds: What the f*** is wrong with us?”

Let’s Call The Isla Vista killings What They Were – Misogynist Extremism.

Racism in Britain has actually gone *down* over the last 30 years (and the last five), contrary to the Guardian’s spin.

I’ve been shortlisted for an ABSW award for Best Science Blog. Thanks!

Were there underground tunnels for cows in Manhattan?

The Daily Mail plagiarizes yet another science blog post. It’s practically their modus operandi now.

The longest disambiguation pages on Wikipedia. 

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